I am writing to discuss the outcome of the vote on Resolution 1819-103 and the resulting impact.
On March 20, 2019 the Student Senate body voted against this resolution which would have allowed the separation of Graduate Student Senate from Student Senate. However, it did pass Senate Bill 1819-16 that “affirms” Graduate Student Senate’s current status in terms of governing power. Both of these documents were emailed to Graduate Student Senate President Modayil two days before they were voted on and no one from Graduate Student Senate was asked to have input on them.
The impact that these results have on Student Senate is minimal. The outcome essentially changes nothing and is merely a show of support for the status quo. The impact that these results have on Graduate Student Senate, and the general graduate student population, however, is monumental. It shows that graduate student voices are still not being heard, which is not surprising as there are only two graduate representatives in the whole Student Senate. How could two people possibly be expected to successfully advocate for over 6,000 students when all other representatives have significantly less members in their constituencies? This is not to discredit the efforts of those representatives, but simply to bring to light the disadvantages that they face.
During this past school year, I have worked as an undergraduate student in an appointed position with Graduate Student Senate. I work closely with the executive board and can attest to their commitment and expertise. President Modayil and Vice President of Finance Michael Senteney work every day to make the lives of all graduate students easier and better. As graduate students themselves, they are more familiar with the challenges faced by this population than any undergraduate could hope to be. Even though I work with graduate students in my position and will be a graduate student in a few short months, I could never hope to fully understand their exact lifestyle — precisely because I have not experienced it.
When President Modayil told me in the fall that they were trying to become separate from Student Senate, I was shocked because it never occurred to me that the two bodies weren’t already separate. It makes no sense that a fully functional, self-governing body of graduate students should have to answer to another body that doesn’t have the capacity to fully understand what a graduate student’s life is like.
In addition to not passing Resolution 1819-103, members of the Student Senate body have issued accusations on social media toward Graduate Student Senate as a whole and towards President Modayil specifically. They claim Graduate Student Senate members have been acting immature and unprofessional, but in my opinion, it is the height of immaturity to aggressively spread non-factual information on social media, specifically for the purpose of discrediting someone. If you don’t agree with President Modayil or Graduate Student Senate, that’s fine, but then you should speak directly to those involved instead of stirring the pot on public sites.
In sum, I believe it is absolutely ridiculous that Student Senate did not pass Resolution 1819-103 and I think that their actions and attitudes towards the issue are extremely unprofessional. Graduate Student Senate should have autonomy, as the executive members and the general body are all very knowledgeable students who are capable of advocating for themselves.
Gwendolyn Kunkel is a senior in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program with the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University.